The July/August issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine has an article on “The Best Way to Boil Green Beans.” The author talks about how he stumbled on a tip in the cookbook On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee that describes how heavily salted water speeds up the cooking of vegetables. According to him, the cookbook said the key was to cook your vegetables in water as salty as the sea which roughly translates to about 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. In typical Cook’s Illustrated fashion, the author proceeded to experiment, trying out different ratios of salt to water, to finally discover that the book was right and the heavily salted water produced tender, vibrantly green, deeply flavorful beans.
I decided to try the green bean salad recipe included in the article and serve it at Christmas dinner. The salad was a hit. I don’t have a copy of Harold McGee’s book so I don’t know if this secret works for other vegetables as well, but I’m definitely boiling green beans this way from now on.
GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND FETA CHEESE
- 1½ lbs. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- ¼ cup salt
- 12 ozs. cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. each of salt and pepper
- 2 ozs. (½ cup) feta cheese, crumbled
- Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan over high heat.
- Add green beans and 1/4 cup salt, return to boil, and cook until green beans are bright green and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
- While green beans cook, fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water.
- Drain green beans in colander and immediately transfer to ice bath.
- When green beans are no longer warm to the touch, drain in colander again, then transfer to salad spinner and spin to dry thoroughly.
- Place green beans, tomatoes, oil, mint, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine.
- Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with feta, and serve.
- If you don’t own a salad spinner, you can lay the drained green beans on a clean kitchen towel after shocking them in the ice water, and pat them dry.
- The green beans can be blanched, shocked, and dried, then stored in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days in advance.